by Randy Fox
It’s quite true that sitting on your sofa and watching horror movies for 12 hours straight might sound like a tempting time for any true blue (with red blood, of course) horror film fan. But the truth is, you’re going to have all the distractions of home. The end result is going to be that feeling of, “Wow, I should be getting something done.”
But transplant that same activity to a good theater, and you have a very special experience. Over the course of 12 hours, a sense of community can grow in the aisles as cinema buffs establish their own roles in the fear-mongering gestalt, and their senses are buffeted by all manner of gore, shocks, gross-outs and unintended guffaws.
That’s why just hearing that The Belcourt was planning another “12 Hours of Terror” marathon for this October thrilled me. (Full disclosure: The event is co-sponsored by the Scene, and Scene contributors Jim Ridley and Jason Shawhan helped select the movies.) That anticipation just got all the more delicious with the release of this year’s line-up. The fine film bookers at The Belcourt had gone all-out to assemble a collection of screen fright features that will bring many surprises to the casual horror fan, and some frantic “Wowzas!” to even the most hardcore fear film devotee.
Kicking off with a classic lesser-known slasher film, The Burning, (from back when slasher films meant blood AND bare breasts) this year’s 12 Hours of Terror includes the little-known classic Messiah of Evil and the granddaddy of all slasher films, Mario Bava’s stylish killfest Bay of Blood (aka Twitch of the Death Nerve). Then add in in supernatural, gore-filled effect fests An American Werewolf in London, Lamberto Bava’s Demons and the jaw-dropping gross-out social commentary of Society. Close it out with the sharp wit and cutting implements of the slasher spoof Detention, starring Hunger Games heart-throb Josh Hutcherson, and you have a meaty platter for the hardest of hardcore horror fan. I may have to start scouting my seat right now.
12 Hours of Terror will be at the Belcourt on Saturday, Oct. 27, noon to midnight. Tickets are $18, $14 for Belcourt members, and on sale now through the Belcourt’s website and at the box office. Full schedule below.
Dir. Tony Maylam, USA, 1981, 91 min., Unrated, 35mm
The best slasher movie ever written by Harvey and Bob Weinstein—and they don’t call him “Harvey Scissorhands” for nothin’! The very first Miramax movie, this spam-in-a-cabin chop-a-thon is notable for its Tom Savini gore, for introducing Holly Hunter, Jason Alexander and Fisher Stevens to the world—and for collecting all the inchoate stories of woods-bound madmen stalking summer camps into one squalid little nightmare. Garden shears are the weapon of choice, and death is as plentiful as short shorts.
MESSIAH OF EVIL
Dir. Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, USA, 1973, 90 min., R, 35mm
From the writing team of AMERICAN GRAFFITI—and, er, HOWARD THE DUCK—comes this waaay underrated sleeper sometimes called “the American Suspiria!” When the moon runs red in the sky above Point Dune, California, the dark stranger will return. As lovely Marianna Hill makes her way to the sleepy coastal town to find her father (whose home is also Monte Baragon's beach house in the 1945 MILDRED PIERCE), she uncovers something with the potential to unmake society and leave all life trembling in its wake. There's nowhere to be safe from this nameless army of the once-were-alive who bleed from their eyes.
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON
Dir. John Landis, USA, 1981, 97 min., R, 35mm
Aw-ooo!!! There’s a bad moon on the rise when vacationing Yanks David Naughton and Griffin Dunne meet up with savage jaws and slashing claws on the moors. Dunne is done for, but Naughton suddenly gets the cinema’s worst case of itchy palms courtesy of makeup master Rick Baker’s still-astonishing transformation scenes. Hot off his smashes ANIMAL HOUSE and THE BLUES BROTHERS, writer-director John Landis used his clout to make this loving big-budget homage to the Universal horror classics he loved as a kid—only with all the sex, nudity, black humor and bloodshed an R rating will allow! See you next Wednesday!
BAY OF BLOOD/TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE (Reazione a Catena)
Dir. Mario Bava, Italy, 1971, 84 min., R, 35mm
Know where you are? You’re in the grindhouse, baby—and for the duration of this super-stylish shocker, you’re getting the top shelf in cinematic rotgut down to the alternate credits and an awesome beat-to-hell print! Pretend it’s 1972 on The Deuce and you’re among the bug-eyed faithful catching one of the most notorious splat-sterpieces of all time: the great Mario Bava’s delirious attempt to see how many bizarre, imaginative, you’ve-never-seen-that-before kills one movie can crowd into 84 minutes! No wonder this was the direct inspiration for FRIDAY THE 13TH and the whole slasher genre. And just when you think you’ve seen it all—prepare for the mother of all WTF endings!
Dir. Brian Yuzna, USA, 1989, 99 min., Unrated, 35mm
Quite possibly the discovery of the fest — and in the infamous unrated cut that preserves some of the most disgusting makeup effects ever committed to film! Good guy Billy Warlock cannot wait for the graduation party that will induct him into the snooty ranks of his suburb’s wealthy elite — until he learns membership has privileges that come with a price. We could describe what you’re going to see, thanks to horrifying effects work by the aptly named Screaming Mad George — but you’d never believe us. They can’t do that in movies! From the indecent mind of Re-Animator author Brian Yuzna comes the sick, sick social satire that tells the world: “We ate the 99 percent!”
Dir. Lamberto Bava, Italy, 1985, 88 min., Unrated, 35mm
The family that slays together, stays together — and in this marvel of unrelenting splatter, a surefire candidate for the most over-the-top gorefest ever made, Lamberto Bava does his old man Mario proud! The Metropol is a grand old movie house, one of Berlin's most exquisite theatres. And tonight, their reopening has some very special programming scheduled: avant-garde art, new fixtures — and an unholy curse bent on tearing its way through screen and flesh alike! Punk rockers, swordplay, a kissing kill, heaps of goo, 80s everything, and all the fountains of blood, guts and spew you could hope for—no, no, it’s the least we could do.
“Just when we think we know what the word 'gore' means, someone comes along and says, 'I bet you never saw somebody do this on the screen,' and so we got, once again, the most disgusting movie in the history of movies. Automatic four stars.” —Joe Bob Briggs
Dir. Joseph Kahn, USA, 2011, 93 min., R, 35mm
The Nashville premiere of the biggest cult movie of 2022! Joseph Kahn, music-vid auteur and director of the amazing TORQUE, shoots the works with this years-ahead-of-its-time horror comedy that's like DONNIE DARKO and SCREAM had a baby and did bath salts during pregnancy. HUNGER GAMES dreamboat Josh Hutcherson embraces the R rating as the coolest kid at a high school where students are cutting class and a hooded stalker is cutting them. Did we mention the time travel? The horror movie within a movie (within a movie)? The bear porn? (You heard us.) The result is a sci-fi/slasher/teen-romance mindblower so dense with allusions, so packed with sight gags and scares, so filled with manic tangents and crazy subplots and riotous characters, you should consider this a warm-up for the second viewing you’ll want immediately afterward! And you’re seeing it first!